Unit 1: Week 3: Components of an Operating System

Unit 1: Week 3: Components of an Operating System

Essential Questions

  • Every computing device has an operating system (OS). What are the similarities and differences between OS?
  • How can I leverage what I know about the OS for devices I’m familiar with to operate others?
  • How can I use features of a computing device’s OS to optimize my use of the device?

Big Ideas

Every computing device has an operating system (OS), no matter whether it is a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, or even a smartphone or digital watch. The OS is the critical software that interfaces with the software applications you install and the hardware you use to control it. With an OS, the devices we depend on would have limited abilities and could not accept new or updated programs/apps over time.

Connection to Student Lives

It’s likely your phone has an OS. If you own a smart watch, it has an OS. Even newer cars and many appliances have an OS that controls the hardware. Not all OS use the same commands, keys, or functions, but many have similarities. Just as you probably know how to update your phone, install apps, and manage your phone’s data, you can interact with the OS of most computing devices to make sure they operate as efficiently as possible.

Framing Problem

Each OS has key commands and may face common problems. As a member of the Help Desk, you should understand the basic operations of any OS supported by the school district and potential solutions to problems they often face. This information is usually kept in the Help Desk knowledge base.

Technicians will present key OS commands and common problems devices face related to their OS and some potential solutions that students can test.

Cornerstone Assessment

Teams will contribute to the Help Desk knowledge base by creating documents or videos of tips to consider when exploring a device’s OS for common issues.

DPI Standards

  • 2.01 Understand types of software and their uses

CompTIA Standards

  • 3.1 Manage applications and software
  • 3.2 Explain the purpose and proper use of software


  • Explain the purpose of an operating system (OS)
  • Understand the difference between commercial and open-source software
  • Identify common commercial and open-source operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome and Android
  • Distinguishing characteristics of different operating systems
  • Different types of computer systems, such as workstations, servers, mobiles, embedded systems, and virtualization
  • How files can be organized into directories or folders
  • What a browser is and basic navigation features used to access information on a web page
  • What GUI and line commands and their purposes
  • The difference between ending and killing a process
  • The importance of access control features and how they are used to configure user accounts
  • Different storage types


  • Distinguish between different types of operating systems
  • Match operating systems to different types of computer systems
  • Navigate common OS
  • Create, organize, and find files and folders (directories)
  • Use basic navigation features of a web browser to view websites or other information on a computing system
  • Use processes such as Task Manager, Services, Task Scheduler, and Disk Management to help devices run more effectively and efficiently
  • Use GUI and line commands to configure an operating system
  • Use access control features to configure user accounts


  • Access control/protection (authenticate, privileges) -
  • Disk management -
  • Interfaces (Command Line Interface, Graphical User Interface) -
  • Memory, Virtual Memory -
  • Process management/scheduling (kill process/end task) -
  • Processes -
  • Services -
  • Utilities (Task Scheduling) -

Supporting Vocabulary

  • 32-bit and 64-bit software
  • Address bar
  • Directory
  • driver
  • Embedded OS: static environment, Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS), firmware, Basic InputOutput System (BIOS), Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)
  • file types, such as executable and configuration files
  • Firmware
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • Host
  • Hyperlinks
  • Hypervisor [Type I “bare metal” vs Type II]
  • kernel
  • Mobile device OS (iOS and Android)
  • Navigation bars
  • Open Source
  • Operating System (OS)
  • Sandbox
  • Server OS (Windows, Linux)
  • Task manager (taskmgr)
  • Types of Operating Systems (OS): Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome and Android
  • Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
  • VM
  • Web pages, websites, web servers, and browsers
  • Workstation OS (Windows, macOS, Chrome)

Weekly Map


Introduction to problems:

Pre-assessment online

Team meetings to develop project plan and goals


Review content resources with whole group

Small group and independent exploration of resources

Contribute to team project


Hands-on exploration with IT professionals

Team progress check with supervisor (using project plan)


Hands-on exploration with IT professionals

Small group and independent exploration of resources

Contribute to team project


Team progress check with supervisor or sharing of progress with whole group

Post-assessment online

Monitor progress and adjust project plan as necessary

Lesson Ideas

Students work in teams to review Units 1.3 and 1.4 in their textbook. The students collaborate on adding to their Frayer-type digital presentation that records and illustrates key vocabulary and concepts in the Units. Students contribute to these files throughout the semester to prepare for the CompTIA certification exam and to contribute to the Help Desk knowledge base.

Technicians introduce students to key functions and capabilities of different operating systems (e.g., Windows, MacOS, Chrome, iOS, Android). Students learn key functionality of OS supported by the school district and explore common OS problems presented by the technicians. Students create “tip sheets,” either in text with images (e.g., screen shots) or short videos of common functions of an OS and how to resolve common issues using processes such as Disk Management, Task Manager, and reviewing memory use. The tip sheets are added as documentation to the knowledge based used to support the Help Desk throughout the semester.

Students learn about different user access privileges in their system and practice setting up user accounts for students and addressing common access issues (e.g., lost/forgotten password). They create documentation for the knowledge base on how to manage user accounts that they might access as a member of the Help Desk. (Note: the level of access students have to user accounts is at the discretion of the district.)

Potential Resources

The Official CompTIA ITF+ Instructor’s Manual and Student Guide: Units 1.3 and 1.4

Frayer Diagram Template (slide deck, document, or other)



Technology Gee


Khan Academy